Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Midnight Sun Brewing Company

Out of all of the breweries I visited in Alaska, I would have to say that Midnight Sun was the highlight of the entire trip. This was true for one reason, and one reason alone: superior beer.

Now allow me to take a step back, and explain a little bit about Midnight Sun. It is located in South Anchorage, and it is one of four breweries in Anchorage. They've been brewing beer since 1995 and have been on the forefront of innovative brewing ever since. Never before have I seen so many unique beers brewed and offered by one establishment. They take traditional styles and do amazing things with them. This is what defines them as a top brewery in my opinion. So often I find myself in small breweries drinking the same thing everyone else is offering. It is quite refreshing to find a brewery doing things no one else has thought of. I think this fact, more than any other is why I enjoyed Midnight Sun so much.

At the time of my visit they had 14 beers on tap. The variety was mind boggling. Let me walk you through their list (I'll highlight a few of my favorites): Midnight Sun Kolsch, Kodiak Brown Ale, Sockeye Red IPA, Oosik Amber Ale, Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter, Panty Peeler Tripel, Mayhem Belgian Double IPA, Hop Dog Double Wheat IPA, CoHoHo Imperial IPA, Gluttony Triple IPA, 2nd Hand Smoke, The New Black, Pride, and Head Banger.

These beers are from one of several lists on the site. These lists include their Year-round beers, Seasonals, Specialties, Collaborations, a new special series released every year (this year the Pop Ten series, and in past years Crew Brews, Seven Deadly Sins, and Planet Brews) the Obliteration Series, as well as a Commemorative Series.

I was only able to sample six of their 14 options (36 ounces of beer) and for me it was a bit difficult to settle on only six when I'd so many interesting and unique options sitting in front of me. After much deliberation I settled upon these six: (from right to left in the photo) The Panty Peeler Tripel, The New Black Belgian Black Sour, Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter, CoHoHo Imperial IPA, Gluttony Triple IPA, and Second Hand Smoke. All of these beers were excellent but I'll only highlight a few, since this post is growing rather long...

Gluttony Triple IPA: This caught my eye because I had never seen a triple IPA, let alone an IPA with 200 IBU's. Initial flavors were orange marmalade, pine, and bursts of citrus. At 10.5% the mouthfeel was suprisingly light. The beer dissipates nicely on the tongue, and as expected, contains a huge hop presence all the way through. It was not syrupy, not overly resiny, great balance, and has a nice spicy bite. It finishes with a nice lingering hop bitterness. Incredibly well hidden alcohol for 10.5%!
Second Hand Smoke: The idea behind this ale was quite interesting; this fact combined with my love of smoked beers is ultimately why I decided to try it. To brew this beer the brewers used spent grains from a previous smoked beer to produce this one. I like that. And it was a really solid brew. It had a lovely dark tan head. The flavor was sweet, with slight alcoholic notes. The smoke was evident initially, and midway through with a nice roasty finish. Definitely something unique you don't see everyday.
The New Black: The New Black, up until now, is the most incredible beer I have ever tasted. The New Black is a black Belgian-style sour ale, half-aged in Cabernet Savignon barrels, half-aged in Bourbon barrels, with the addition of Black Currants. It is a sour ale, so the yeast strain used to produce this beer is Brettanomyces. The complexity and flavor profile was out of this world; something new each and every sip. Initially the nose is astrigent, sour, hints of red wine and fruit present. Midway through the tangy fruity sourness fades to roastiness. Hints of vanilla and oak, and the finish is all dark and roasty. There was no doubt about it. My favorite beer ever, hands down.
Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter: I had to include this one in here simply because it remains my favorite coffee beer, and you should definitely go try and find a bottle if you enjoy coffee beers.

All in all as I stated before, Midnight Sun was my favorite stop on the Alaska Brewery Tour. The ales and ingenuity really amazed me. If you happen to see their brew in stores, go ahead and buy a bottle and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Thanks for reading!


No comments: